Jalopnik The crisis: Toyota recalled a total of 8.8 million vehicles for safety defects, including a problem where the car's accelerator would jam, which caused multiple deaths. How Toyota responded: Toyota initially couldn't figure out the exact problem, but it sent out PR teams to try and stop the media backlash anyway. The upper management was invisible in the early stages of the crisis, skewing public perception further against the company.
Toyota's response was slow, with devastating results. But it served as a wake-up call for the company, which somehow turned it around in the months following the debacle. The company failed miserably in its initial crisis management, but that's what makes Toyota's case so intriguing. Despite its monumental mistakes early on, Toyota still bounced back. Why? It didn't take long for the public to remember Toyota's previously stellar reputation.
The company offered extended warranties and pumped up marketing, leveraging its long-term track record and reassuring consumers about safety. Its ads in the following months were more thoughtful and sincere, showing the company's dedication to fixing the problem. Toyota's executives -- especially in the US -- became more visible, speaking to the media and becoming active in the investigations.
The result: The Toyota brand showcased its resiliency, with its positive reputation built up over decades of good performance. The company leveraged this, focusing its marketing once again on safety and its proven track record. It had to show that this disaster -- including its own horrible mishandling of the situation -- was an aberration. And it worked, with a little bit a of luck. NASA exonerated Toyota of the blame for most of the accidents in 2011 and the company's brand equity leapt 11% this year, according to WPP.
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